There are sus2 and sus4 chords. In the first case, the note is flattened and in the second case it's raised. Sometimes the name of the chord is written as "Csus" without any 2 or 4. In this case, you should treat it as a Csus4.
Sus chords are particularly common in pop music. Sus is an abbreviation of ´suspension ´. What happens from a theoretical aspect is that the second note in the chord is flattened or raised one step. It can also be seen as the third is "suspended". For example, in Dsus4 will F# be suspended and replaced with G (Dsus4) or E (Dsus2).
Common sus chords
How to use the sus chords
Alternating between the sus and original chord
As always in music, there’re many ways to tackle things. A very common procedure, however, is to alternate between the original chord and the sus chord of the same root note. For example: D to Dsus and back to D ...
D – Dsus4 – D – Dsus2 – D
(This figure can be found in the intro to Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”.)
A – Asus2 – A – Asus4 – A – Asus2 – A
(This riff can be heard in the Tom Petty song “Feel a Whole Lot Better”.)
A chord progression you can try out to get a sense of how sus chords can function together with its original chord is:
E – Esus4 – E – D – Dsus4 – D – A – Asus4 – A
The examples show a common concept for this particular chord category. The sus chords are used by not substituting the major chord with it, but instead using it together with a major chord. When playing these kinds of chord progressions you should often avoid to lift all your fingers when the chord changes (from major to sus and vice versa). If you are using the correct fingerings you can often lift one finger or add a finger depending on the chord.
As substitution for the major
The suspended chord can also be used instead for the major (or minor) counterpart:
Am - Gsus4 - F
D - Asus4
C - Asus2
In the end of a verse line
Another way to use suspended chords are in the end of a verse line and perhaps before the shift to another song part, as in the example below:
Cm - Bb - F - Gsus4
Suspended chord inversions
Suspended 4th and 2nd chords are possible to play in numerous configurations including two inversions.
Csus4 can be used as an example:
- C - F - G (root position)
- F - G - C (1st inversion)
- G - C - F (2nd inversion)
To indicate that a chord is played inverted it is written as slash sign before the bass note. For example, the first inversion of the Csus4 chord is written Csus4/F and the second is written Csus4/G. Fingerings follow below in short notation:
The difference between suspended 4th and suspended 2nd
The sus4 chords are often used in combination with its major counterpart. For example, in progressions Dsus4 often come before D major. The reason for this is that the sus4 chord resolves well to its parallel major. As in the following chord sequence:
D – G – Asus4 – A – D
Since the sus2 chord is neither major or minor it can be used in progression when an indefinite sound is wished for. As in the following chord sequence:
C#m – E – Bsus2 – A
Rare suspended chords
As a final, some rare variations in this chord family are presented:
Notice that E6sus4 is identical with A/E.
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